March 13, 2021

Remembering Matthew.

 

Though Matthew is a boy, his name and his life will be forever entwined - with flowers.
There were flowers in the delivery room before his lifeless body even entered the world. 
A gorgeous arrangement of exotic white flowers delivered by a thoughtful friend who knew how much joy they brought me and knew I would need them even more under such heartbreaking circumstances.
There were flowers waiting for me when I returned home with empty arms.
Colorful flowers were dropped off by a lovely older couple who had walked through our same sorrow and wanted us to know we were not alone.
Flowers arrived in the hands of a delivery man; a large, stunning bunch of white long-stemmed roses in a tall, sleek glass vase selected by Dennis's birth mom.
Four days after I delivered Matthew, while leading a MOPS meeting at church, Micah, Luke, and Caleb walked into the room, each carrying a bouquet of flowers in their small hands, and presented them to me one by one. Dennis followed with his own bouquet and hugged and kissed me while thick tears rolled down my cheeks and - the cheeks of every other woman in the room.
And every year since, flowers have marked the anniversary of Matthew's delivery.

Fifteen years.

Sometimes, I feel those fifteen years.
Sometimes, I feel like his tiny body was in my arms fifteen minutes ago.
Either way, I remember.

I remember Dennis.
My sister.
My college roommate Ginger.
The four of us in the room, waiting, talking, crying, praying ... knowing what was to come but not knowing what to expect. None of them left my side for a second. 
And then it happened.
My body felt the discomfort of the contractions.
Within a few minutes, a rush of pain.
The nurse made me push.
And then - a tiny, lifeless body entered the world.
Dennis, Stephanie, and Ginger followed the nurse to witness our child removed from the fully intact placenta, and were there to discover with their own eyes that our child was - a boy.
The nurse wrapped our son in a tiny hand-made blanket and placed him in my arms.
I opened the blanket immediately so I could look at every detail of his body.
His skin was paper-thin.
His mouth was open, shaped like an "o" as if he had been singing.
Bumps covered his tongue.
His hands and feet, his fingers and toes ... so very tiny.
Every single part of him was perfectly formed. His ears, his head, his arms.
He was "fearfully and wonderfully made."
And the days numbered for Him by the God who so lovingly and purposefully created him were 133.

Dennis held me while I held our son.
"What is his name?" he asked.
"Matthew. It has always been Matthew."
He nodded and whispered his son's name for the first time. "Matthew."
'Gift of God.'

Stephanie and Ginger came back and the four of us wept together as we stared at this precious life. A life that weighed just 14 ounces, not even a whole pound. A life that fit inside my hand. A life that had never taken a breath, yet changed my life, forever.

I remember.
My husband's tears splashing on my cheek.
The tears of my sister as her own personal losses mingled with mine.
The tears of my friend who wept with me and for me because she loved me.
The tears that fell from my own eyes when the nurse came to take our son away.
The tears that flowed like silent screams until I could hardly breathe as I lay in the dark hospital room, alone.
The tears that poured out as I prayed, begging the Lord to make sense of it all and crying out, "This has to be bigger than me, Lord! I am not the first woman to bury a baby, and I will not be the last. Please use this for something bigger than me!"
The tears that rolled down my cheeks the next morning when the nurse brought Matthew back to us so we could dedicate him to the Lord, and the fresh round of weeping that poured out of both of us when Dennis's best friend looked upon the lifeless body of our son before switching to the role of pastor, opening Scripture, and offering praise to God for the beauty of Matthew's life.

And I remember the day I stood on the sand, years later, staring into the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean as tears once again wetted my cheeks as I was finally able to say, "Thank You, Lord, for taking my son."

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

September 30, 2020

Thrilled and thankful!

 

After years and YEARS of waiting, someone has finally written a book about miscarriage and stillbirth.
Not just any book - one filled with pages of ENCOURAGEMENT - EMPATHY - and TRUTH.
A volume that should sit on the shelf of every believer as a resource, and one that should be lovingly and prayerfully placed into the hands of a woman suffering the unique sorrow of losing a baby in the womb.
I cannot remember where I learned of this slender gem, and I had no idea if I would be pleased with its contents, but I took a chance because resources to encourage and support women who have buried their unborn children have been woefully wanting. So you can imagine my delight when I found myself saying (and writing in the margins) "Yes! Yes! YES!" page after page as the words of the author hit the proverbial nail on the head when describing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of miscarriage and stillbirth. She has walked through the same sorrow, so she "gets it." She is honest about the pain, the anger, the discontentment, the fear, and every other thought/emotion wrapped up in suffering the loss of a child that was so desperately wanted.
But after all of the personal stories, she does what every godly author must do. She points her readers to the cross. To the Savior. To the only One who can heal their broken bodies and wounded hearts.
She pours Scripture into their thoughts, and then says, "Go. He is waiting for you."

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of this small yet significant book penned by a woman who clearly loves You and wants others to understand Your love for them. I pray it will be a source of comfort, healing, and truth as it finds its way into the hands of women who feel lost and alone in their darkest hours. You are the One who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, so I ask that each woman who seeks comfort within these pages will find YOU on every page - and find healing because she surrenders her heart, mind, and body to You.



March 14, 2020

Remembering Matthew's life while rejoicing over a new one.

Today, on the 14th anniversary of Matthew's delivery, I held a three-week-old baby girl in my arms while celebrating the upcoming wedding of one of my COMMITTED girls at her bridal shower.
It was a beautiful way to spend such a personal day.
Fellowship. Delicious food. (I love quiche!) Fun conversations. Purposeful conversations. A devotion to encourage and affirm the future bride. Games of familiarity and frivolity. A time of affectionate reflection.
It was a sweet day.

Holding a new baby was the perfect way to reflect on the life of my son.
Anyone looking at me probably saw a "precious new baby" in my arms. But there is so much more going on behind the scenes. The tiny bundled creation was not the firstborn child in her family. She is the fourth. Her mother suffered three miscarriages and all of the heartbreak and sorrow that comes with each one. 
I will never forget the evening I spent with her and her husband after their first loss. After hours of talking and sharing, she took me outside to show me the plant her husband lovingly placed in a flower pot to forever remind them of the life of their firstborn child. After staring at it for a few minutes, I asked if I could pray with them. I held my sweet sister in my arms while I begged the Lord to comfort them both. And as I prayed, she wept.
The dam holding back all of the emotion gave way, and she fully surrendered to the pain, allowing the tears to wash it all away. She would not let go of me, and her husband stood silently next to us knowing that this time, she didn't need him.
She needed a woman who understood. A woman who has buried her own child. A woman who has walked through her same sorrow. A woman who asked the same questions, experienced the same fears, felt the same confusion, and imagined that she, too, was drowning in despair.
That day, in those unforgettable moments on her front lawn, the Lord chose me to be that woman.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. II Corinthians 1:3-5

And today, the Lord circled back, allowing me the honor of not only hugging this precious young woman once again but taking her sweet baby, the one she has waited for and prayed for, into my arms and holding her close to my heart.


The heart of a mother that still aches for her son.
The heart of a mother that mourns his loss though the tears have ceased to flow.
The heart of a mother that praises God because everything He does, everything He allows, is for a purpose. Even the pain.
The heart of a mother that knows that without the loss of Matthew, she would have never learned how to sit in sorrow with other women who weep for their babies.
The heart of a mother that never wants to forget those darkest of days, because, without memory, compassion grows cold. 

I never know how the Lord is going to minister to me on Matthew's anniversary, but I know He will.
And today, He used the precious six-pound body of a newborn baby to let me feel close to LIFE. Fresh, sweet, innocent, beautiful, not-a-care-in-the-world life.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You. Psalm 139


This is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of our son. By Your providence, his life began and ended in the womb, and forever changed ours. 

February 15, 2020

Remembering our son.


March 14, 2019

Sweet Matthew,
It has been thirteen years since I held you in my arms. Thirteen years since I looked at your little face and your tiny hands and feet. Thirteen years since I sat on a hospital bed, broken, overwhelmed with sorrow, and wondering how I would ever recover from the loss of my baby.
BUT GOD.
After everyone left, after the nurse took you away, when the room was dark and silent, the Lord met me in my darkest hour.
And that night, just hours after saying goodbye to you, the Lord began to gently bind my wounds and revive my crushed spirit.
Tears flowed freely day and night for weeks and my heart felt like it was being smashed inside my chest, but even in the deepest moments of grief, He held me tightly in His grip. He sustained me in my sorrow.
And He protected my mind. For, Matthew, I could not do so myself. I wondered ... did you feel pain when you died? Were you scared? Did you know who I was? Would you know my voice? Recognize my face when we reunite in glory?
I wondered if I could have prevented your death. Was it something I did? Something I ate? Did I put my selfish needs above your needs, preventing you from being healthy and whole?
The questions and fears did not linger long, but they made sure to knock on the door of my mind, begging to be allowed in. And each time, I had to force myself to speak the truth I knew was real even though I didn't understand it, or like it.
Your journal is filled with my questions, my thoughts, my confusion, and my praise. I knew you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and I knew He loved you with an everlasting love. I knew He had chosen the day of your death just as He had chosen the day of your birth. I knew He was powerful enough to restore life to you. But, He didn't. And though I didn't know "why," I had to ask, "What, Lord? What do you want me to learn from this?"
Matthew, your death changed everything. It changed how your dad and I view God's sovereignty. It changed how we view our family. It changed how I pray. How I trust God. How I read Scripture. Everything I knew before was now being seen, pondered and lived through the lens of suffering. And while it was the most intense trial the Lord has ever asked me to walk through, it is also one of the greatest gifts He has ever given to me.
The Lord used your death to strengthen me, Matthew.
I am not the same woman I was the day I held your precious, lifeless body in my arms.
He used your death to push me to my knees in prayer.
Bury my face in the pages of Scripture.
Fall in love with worship music so I could praise Him through tears.
Learn to say, "I need."
Learn to swallow pride and accept help.
He used your death to teach me how to recognize and comfort the hurting, even when it was uncomfortable.
He used your death to start a ministry that reaches out to women who are as broken and sorrow-filled as I was the night I wept inconsolably on the closet floor.
Your life, your 133 days, were purposeful and beautiful and changed the trajectory of my life, forever.
You are our son, Matthew Isaac Eastman.
From the moment we knew you existed until this very day, we have acknowledged your life.
Every year, on the anniversary of your delivery, your father brings me seven bouquets of flowers, representing the lives of each Eastman child. Though we have never felt your arms around our necks, listened to you laugh, or heard you whisper, "I love you," in the darkness of night, you are an Eastman. And you are ours. Our precious son.
It took time, years actually, but I will never forget the day I stood on the sandy shore of the Pacific Ocean on Mother's Day, with your sister Ellie bundled in my arms, and finally cried out, "Thank You, Lord, for taking my son," while tears streamed down my face. It was the most difficult act of obedience I have ever surrendered to ... praising the God who takes away.
And yet, as the sound of the crashing waves faded in the background while I walked away from the shore, I felt a peace and contentment I had never experienced. I thought I had surrendered in the dark night of the hospital room, but I had merely taken the first step into surrender.
And God carried me through every step thereafter. Faithfully. Patiently. And with grace.
Oh, Matthew, as deeply as you are loved (and missed) by me and your father, I am thankful you have only known the perfect love of the One who created you, the One who numbered your days, and the One who chose to give you - to us.
You are real. You are ours. And you will never be forgotten.
I love you. ❤ Mom

Remembering Matthew twelve years later.


This was the sky that greeted me this morning.
Bright blue.
Clear as clear can be.
Soft, white, fluffy clouds.
A gentle breeze.

A perfect backdrop for the day we remember and honor the life of our son, Matthew.

Twelve years.
It has been twelve years since my doctor looked at me with a downcast face saying, 
"I think you are miscarrying."
Twelve years since I held our son in my arms, washing his tiny face with my tears.
Twelve years since I watched my husband fall apart when he unwrapped our son so his best friend could see him - and dedicate him to the Lord.
Twelve years since hearing our dear friend read these beautiful verses from Psalm 119:73-77 ...
Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
May those who fear You see me and be glad, Because I wait for Your word.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.
May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.
Twelve years since I sat on my hospital bed saying, "Lord, this has to be bigger than me losing my baby. I am not the first woman and I certainly won't be the last. There has to be more."

Twelve years.

In the beginning, I wondered if I would laugh again.
I wondered if the tears would ever cease.
If the painful ache to know my son and feel him in my arms would diminish.
If anyone would remember him.
If he knew I was his mom and would recognize me in heaven.
I wondered so many things through my sorrow and my tears.

And the Lord faithfully walked beside me every single one of those days - 
and turned my mourning into joy and my weeping into laughter.

And why would He not?
He is a God who "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Because He does so faithfully, we can echo the words of the Psalmist,
"This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me LIFE." Psalm 119:50

And like the bright blue sky that follows a storm, 
Weeping may last through the night, but JOY comes in the morning! Psalm 30:5

I have to remember.


Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.
Remember the wondrous works that He has done,
His miracles and the judgments He uttered. I Chronicles 16:11,12

Some memories are sweet.
Some memories are sorrowful.
How easy it is to bask in the sweet, and quickly run from the sorrowful.

And yet, Scripture asks us to REMEMBER.
Not the hurt and the pain, but the work of the Lord in the midst of both.
Because good or bad, sensational or sorrowful, He allows it all.
I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75

As the 12th anniversary of the loss of our son Matthew draws near, I must choose to remember

And so, I will.

I will remember who God is, His faithfulness, how He worked in the dark and devastating days surrounding the stillbirth, and how He has used Matthew's life for His glory by allowing me and a team of women to offer comfort and hope to those who have suffered the same sorrow. 
Losing a child in the womb, whether through miscarriage or stillbirth, is grief only those who have walked through it can imagine or understand. We need each other. To talk, cry, share, ask questions, scream, hug, listen, and pray. And to do these things, to empathize with a woman who is drowning in fresh grief after losing her precious baby, we have to remember our own pain. Our own story. Our own heartbreak and tears. And most important ... how God showed Himself a faithful, loving, comforting Father when we didn't think we could get through another day. 
Once we connect with those memories, we are able to identify with her pain, and then - sit down beside her in the cold, dark pit until she is ready to climb out into the sunlight once again.

We do not remember in order to re-open old wounds or invite bitterness into our hearts.
We remember so we can offer PRAISE to a God who "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." He is a loving and merciful God who sits with us in our darkest moments, never leaves us, never forsakes us, and promises that He is our rock and our fortress. A place where we can run - and feel safe.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Psalm 42:6

When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. Jonah 2:7

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever.
He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful. Psalm 111:1-4

I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that You have done;
I ponder the work of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You;
my soul thirsts for You like a parched land. Psalm 143:5

Remembering our son, Matthew.

March 14, 2017

When I held our son Matthew after he was delivered eleven years ago, his entire body fit inside my hand. He weighed only fourteen ounces and measured about eight inches long. So tiny, so fragile - and so silent.
Babies are supposed to cry when they are born. They are supposed to wiggle and squirm until they are quieted by the soft voice and life-giving source of their mother. But when a baby is delivered without breath, without life ... there is no sound. There is just silence.
Soon, however, the air fills with the hushed voices of the nurses as they do what must be done, the tender words of a husband seeking to console his grieving wife, and the sobs of the mother who weeps for her baby that is no more.

The pain and sorrow of the day Matthew was delivered have long since passed, but the memories have not.
Gentle nurses.
Praying friends.
Visitors ministering to my aching heart.
A sister who would not leave my bedside.
A faithful friend who wiped away every tear, including her own.
A husband who felt helpless and scared, but bravely and tenderly served and loved me every moment we were in that room.
And a God who kept His promise never to leave me or forsake me, for I felt His presence every hour.

The overwhelming ache of death and loss have gone away, but the memories remain.
And I pray they always will.

Every time I sit on my couch with a woman who has suffered a miscarriage or a stillbirth ...
Every time I respond to an e-mail from a woman reaching out for encouragement and support after her own loss ...
Every time someone asks me how to minister to a woman who has lost a baby ...
I want to REMEMBER the pain - the sorrow - the agony - and the grief.
If I don't remember, I cannot join her in her pain, and that is exactly what I want to do.
Anyone can listen. Anyone can pray. Anyone can give a hug. Anyone can cry.
But only those who have walked the same path of suffering understand. And understanding is exactly what these women seek in the darkness of their despair.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort tooII Corinthians 1:3-5


I had no idea when I sat on that hospital bed over a decade ago that I would be part of a miscarriage ministry that reaches hundreds of women. I had no idea I would meet women from all over the world who cry in the middle of the night in the safety of their closet ... fear they will never have another child ... feel like no one understands what they are feeling or thinking, or wants to ... are afraid to tell anyone what they are really thinking ... wonder if anyone will remember a baby they have never met ... are shocked when someone asks, "Why are you still crying about this?"... and hate Mother's Day. Just like I did.
What I did know, without the tiniest bit of doubt, was that losing Matthew was not about me. Millions of women before me had buried babies, and millions after me would do the same. "This has to be bigger than me, Lord! It HAS to be bigger than me!" I repeated those words over and over in the darkness of my hospital room.
Before He could use me to comfort others, however, He had to comfort my own heart first. And He did so faithfully, with compassion and grace, until I was able to use my own sorrow to serve other women who found themselves weeping through the night for the babies they would never know.

How grateful I am to belong to a God who always fulfills His promises, and meets us where we are. Especially in our deepest grief.

Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant. Psalm 119:76

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50

But praise Him! He doesn't leave us there!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23

Thank You, Lord, for the dark valleys, because without them we would never appreciate the splendor and beauty of the mountaintop view. You are a God who gives and takes away, and while we may never understand the "why" we can know the Who, and choose to give thanks in everything because it is Your will. For Your glory - and for our good. Thank You for the gift of our son, Matthew Isaac Eastman. He was our precious son when he was in my womb, he was our precious son when we held him in our arms for those few hours, and he is our precious son still because he was created by Your hand, for Your purpose, and for the days You appointed. I have never been the same since the day I delivered Him, Lord. Thank You. You used his brief life to change us, and I know You are not finished with us yet. Matthew's life was not in vain - and for this truth, I am forever grateful. You are a good God whether You give or take away, and sometimes we see You best when You take away. Thank You for being an ever-constant, ever-faithful God. I love You. 

Obediently Ministering.

The Lord blessed me through a thoughtful conversation with a sister in Christ Sunday morning. A sister with whom I have worshiped for a few years but never had occasion to meet, until three days ago. She is an elegant and stylish woman, so after complimenting her lovely outfit, we engaged in a twenty-minute conversation that took a turn I was not expecting. I am not sure how it happened exactly, but we landed on the topic of miscarriage and infertility, and before I knew it we were sharing personal stories and discussing the fact that some of the hardest trials in life are the least discussed. I was encouraged by her honesty, her vulnerability, and her sincerity, and after parting ways the Lord kept drawing my thoughts to the miscarriage ministry.


Almost every time we receive a note from a woman requesting our hand-written letters, she shares her surprise with how little help/support there is for women who have suffered a miscarriage or are battling the sorrows of infertility. When I lost Matthew I searched and searched for support groups or websites or anything that would help me through the grief, the pain, and the heartache I was feeling. I wanted to find someone who understood, someone who "got it." But my search was in vain. It has been almost a decade since that time, and while there are more resources available, there are not enough

Rewind to the conversation I enjoyed with my newly-discovered sister on Sunday. When we are hurting, we should not have to search the internet to find support or uncover someone who identifies with our pain. We should only have to look within the four walls of our church. We should only have to look into the faces of our sisters in Christ. We should only have to bend the ear of a pastor or an elder. The body of Christ is made up of millions of believers who have walked where we walk, survived the same trials we are currently trudging through, healed from the hurts we are experiencing, and found JOY in the morning after weeping that lasted long through the night.
In short - we have each other.

We belong to a God who is wholly sufficient to meet all of our needs, yet He chose to give us people with whom we can walk through the valleys and climb to the mountaintops. Flesh on flesh, shoulder to shoulder, face to face RELATIONSHIPS.
Whether those relationships are lived out through public support groups or private conversations matters not. What matters is that we are serving one another, encouraging one another, and comforting one another just as God Himself comforted us when we needed Him most.
How thankful I am for the women in our ministry! They willingly relive the pain of their own loss(es) to minister to women whose pain is fresh and overwhelming. They empathize with, speak truth to, share Christ's love with, pray for, and offer hope to women who reach out to us with broken hearts and a sometimes paralyzing fear that the wounds will never heal.
Every time these sisters write a note of encouragement they become living examples of Scripture, and someone is blessed because of their obedience.
Just as God intended.
And it is beautiful.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any afflictionwith the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Remembering our son.


March 14, 2016

Ten years have passed since I delivered our son Matthew.
A son who would never know life on this earth, but has enjoyed the splendors of heaven and the presence of God day after day.
A son who has never seen my face, heard my voice, or felt my touch. 
But I have seen him. I have touched him. My tears fell on his face and my heart felt like it exploded in my chest when the nurse placed him in my arms. A tiny, lifeless, perfectly formed baby ... my son.
The details of that day are clearly etched in my memory, never, I hope, to be forgotten.
The Lord made Himself very real that day. March 14th, 2006.
He was there. In the kindness of the nurse. The thoughtfulness of friends. The compassion of my family. The prayers of the saints. The support and courage of my husband.
God was there.
He never left me.
He did not leave me when my doctor told me the Thursday before, "I think you are miscarrying."
He did not leave me when we saw the black screen of the ultrasound, where a heart was once beating.
He did not leave me during the weekend when Dennis and I could only stare at each other, knowing the life inside of me was no more.
He did not leave me when I went to church on Sunday, longing to be with the body of Christ, but dreading the emotion I knew would consume me. 
He did not leave me when I stepped into the maternity room to deliver a baby that would not go home with me.
And He is with me still.
It cannot be any other way, because He promised it would be no other way!
"I will never leave you or forsake you."

It has been ten years.
And for the first time in a decade, I had to be reminded of the anniversary.
In the past, my heart hurt before my mind remembered.
The ache triggered the memory. And the weeping would last through the night.
But this year was different.
There was no pain to remind me of his death. No ache. No tears.
And I felt guilty. How could I not remember?
Before I could tumble down into the dark depths of despair, however, the Lord stepped in. He reminded me that the anniversary is just one day - and I think of, talk about, and remember Matthew - always.

He then drew me to this passage:
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds
.
He determines the number of the stars;
He gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
His understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked to the ground.

Psalm 147

God HEALS broken hearts!
The healing takes time. Six months, six years - it doesn't matter. Healing happens!
The brokenness, the pain, the heartache ... they lessen. The memories survive, tenderness exists, tears still fall ... but the open wounds of sorrow close, a scar is formed, and the heart is healed.
Healing doesn't mean love disappears.
It simply erases the pain so JOY can show itself once again.
And when we collapse our hurting, broken bodies at the feet of the Savior, asking Him to heal us and make us whole because we cannot imagine what life looks like in the days ahead ... He is faithful.
God heals the brokenhearted.

And because He does, we can embrace the truth:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance
;
Ecclesiastes 3


When we accept this truth, we won't feel guilty when we find ourselves smiling, laughing, moving forward, and even - forgetting.
We are not forgetting the person.
We are forgetting the pain.

And one day, Praise the Lord, none of us will ever have to experience pain or loss ever again.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21

Why I will never stop talking about it.


Over the years I have been asked more than once, either sincerely or thoughtlessly, "Why do you still talk about it?" when I shared about my miscarriage, and our son, Matthew.

And each time I found myself without a simple, succinct, or Biblical answer.

Until now.

The next time I am asked, "Why do you still talk about your miscarriage?"
I will reply, "Because it's not about ME."

I am one of the millions of women who have buried their babies.
And it will never end.

Women living in the darkness of miscarriage need someone who understands.
Someone who is willing to light a match that will dispel the darkness and prove she is not alone.
Someone who gets it.
Someone who identifies with their pain.
Their confusion.
Their sorrow.
Someone who may have a different story, but the same ending.
A pregnancy that is no more.
The death of a dream.

My miscarriage is not about ME.
It is just one small part of a greater whole.
A purpose known only by a holy, tender, compassionate God who allowed me to walk through a trial I never would have chosen on my own. Because He - had a plan.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. II Corinthians 1

I will NEVER stop talking.

I will never stop because there will always be a woman who needs to hear the struggles, pain, and depths of my heart ... because they match her own.

And hopefully, after she sees, and believes, that I truly understand her thoughts, emotion, and sorrow, she will trust me with her own heart.
And because she trusts me, she will let me lead her - to the Savior.

I may not have known the "why" when I had to bury my son, but I know it now.
And as long as I have breath I will be faithful to share my story over and over and over again, trusting the Lord to use it as He will.
Because He always does.

Remembering the son I never knew ... and the God who has been faithful.

March 14, 2015

As the anniversary of my miscarriage drew near, the Lord kept pressing me to "remember."
This seems ridiculous in some ways because a woman never forgets losing her baby.
But sometimes we only remember the parts that are sad, hurtful, or discouraging.
There is purpose in that, and grief has to be worked through like any emotion, but when the dark clouds have lifted and we are able to glimpse hope, it is time to remember the good.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon reading Matthew's journal.
It was interesting to see the range of emotions written on the pages.
One minute I am praising God and the next minute I am asking how I will ever recover and move forward.
One page reflects my joy that Matthew has only known heaven without any earthly sorrow while another page reveals my intense desire to hold him in my arms again.

The words that most captured my attention, however, were the ones asking the Lord what He was going to do with me. How was He going to use this for good?
I smiled when I read those lines because though I could not see it then, I can see clearly now.
He may still have plans for me that I am unaware of, but I know what He has called me to do now -and I must be obedient.

Forgive my indulgence, for I am going to record a few of my journal excerpts here.
For most, it will seem odd.
But for the woman who has just lost her own baby through miscarriage or stillbirth, reading my thoughts will offer comfort and encouragement as she tries to process her own.
I know ... because I was that woman.

God has been faithful every day and every hour since Thursday, March 10, 2006, when my doctor looked at me and said, "I'm afraid you are miscarrying."
He sustained me through four long days of waiting, hoping, praying, and accepting before Matthew Isaac Eastman was delivered at 3:45 am on Monday, March 14th.

There have been times of extreme sadness and overwhelming emotion, and there have been moments of intense growth and understanding.
And through each one, the Lord has been there.
He always has - and always will be.

Thank You, Lord, for putting me into the fire, and bringing me through it.
I would never have chosen it myself, but now I see how many ways I can praise You because of it!
Thank you.
                                 

July 6, 2006 (four months after Matthew was delivered)
Matthew,
Do you even know who I am? Do you sit on the laps of men and angels and ask them to tell you about me? When we join you in heaven will you run to us? Grabbing our hands to drag us through the streets of gold to show us your favorite places?
I miss you.
I can see your little body. Your tiny face. Sometimes I want that day back ... so I can focus on every detail so I can record them in my mind to play over and over again. At times I feel like the memories are fading, starting to grow dim, and I do not want that to happen.
I have nothing tangible to hold on to. No cry or smile, wiggle or laugh. All was silent, except for the sobs of anguish of those in the room. But you, my son, were silent.
Your due date is coming soon.
Should I tell your daddy that I am dreading this day? Should I remind him that I am not okay? Should I remind anyone?
I spoke with another woman who lost a baby. It was so comforting to hear someone speak my own thoughts - to know she fully comprehends my emotions and my pain. She cried. I cried. And it was good.
It's so hard, Matthew because I WANT to talk about that day. I want someone to ask me about it. Anyone. Some have. Some will. But not many. Death puts you in a very lonely, dark and quiet place because people don't know what to do with you.
Perhaps there is a purpose to the loneliness. Perhaps there is a need for it. Perhaps the simple truth is that without it we cannot grow for we have no need to look UP.
Lord, help me in my need! I do not need to know WHY. I just need to know WHAT.
What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to learn? Teach? Use? There has to be something greater than me ... it has to go beyond that. You comfort us so we can comfort others. Who will I comfort, Lord? Who needs me?
Show me, Father, how the death of my son was not in vain.
Matthew, I love you.
August 9th is coming, and you are not.
Knowing you are in heaven, seeing the face of God ... it makes me feel okay.
But oh, how I miss you!
You are forever my son.
Mommy.

August 2006
(This is a note I recorded in my journal, written to friends asking for support as the due date approached. The Lord was working on me - teaching me to ask for help ... without feeling like a burden - and allowing my friends to love me when I needed to be loved. How else will they know, unless I tell them?)
I am writing to ask you to pray for me.
After Matthew died people warned me the due date would be a difficult hurdle. It seemed illogical as I thought, "Either way my son is gone - what would a date matter?"
But they were right.
I am overwhelmed with emotion, sadness, and utter grief. I hear his name and I cry. I look at his memory box and I just want to scream until he is in my arms again. I miss him so much it aches.
I will confess to you, as Scripture commands, that for the past couple of weeks when someone has asked me how I am doing, I have lied. I say "I'm fine" just to avoid the emotion. To avoid breaking down in front of the person, not knowing if they actually want to hear my heart. I am a woman who has buried her son, and I am not okay with that.
I keep thinking of God's words to Abraham, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?"
If nothing is too hard for Him than lessening my hurt and my grief will be easy.
I have to believe that God's ways are not mine, and I need to trust.
And I will. I will do so in the midst of my tears.
That is okay, right?
"There is a time to weep and a time to laugh" and we are to "in everything give thanks" - so cannot both happen simultaneously? I pray so.
Thank you for loving me.
Michelle

September 2006
Matthew,
I think of you every day. But I find myself not feeling sad when I think of you.
I really do not know how to explain it. At times I feel guilty because I CAN go through a day without thinking of you. I can picture your face and not cry. I can remember holding you and not feel my heartbreak. Shouldn't I still be sad, I wonder? Shouldn't I still be emotional and hurting and feel a sense of emptiness? As soon as I start to feel BAD for feeling good - I have to stop.
Is this not exactly what I asked the Lord to do? Did I not ask for the pain to decrease? Does He not promise in His Word to heal the brokenhearted?
If all of this is true, then why am I surprised to have found healing in my own heart? To find strength and joy where there once was pain?
God did this, Matthew!
Praise be to Him!
I imagine my writings will grow more scarce as the Lord continues to heal and restore me, but know you are always in my thoughts and forever in my heart, my son. My Matthew.
I love you.
Mommy

🖋🖋 If you are working through the grief and loss of someone you love, I encourage you to write.
Even if it is simple scribbles on scratch paper, record your thoughts.
Not just to remember the details or the pain, but to see the way God works in the middle of it all.
We cannot always find the beauty in the ashes when they are falling down around us, but we can look back, and see the finished product when hope and joy have been restored.